The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, has accused Kaduna State governor, Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai, of sponsoring hate speech campaign against the group. The movement in a statement issued by the president, Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, alleged that El Rufa’i sponsored hate speech campaigns against it at a recent book presentation at Arewa House, Kaduna, during which Shias were called infidels by the organisers of the event.
According to Musa, “The Islamic Movement in Nigeria wishes to express its outright disapproval of the current campaign of calumny against the Shia Islamic faith in general and the Islamic Movement in particular as espoused in the gathering of some Wahabi Islamic scholars during the book presentation on Sunday 11/08/18 at Arewa House, Kaduna, where Kaduna state Governor was the Chief Host. “Though, the book presented was entitled “Fallacy of Shi’ites beliefs,” the scholars were reported by some national dailies to have said that “Shiites, threat to National Security.” We feel this news headline deserves our condemnation. How about if we say: “Sunnis, threat to National Security,” will followers of Sunni Islam in Nigeria not get offended?” according to the Press Statement.
“We are extremely concerned that this title is similar to some of the scary titles you read about Muslims on the websites of Far Right movements who are busy spreading Islamophobia in the West in particular and the world in general, only that in this context the shiaphobia is the bogey for the so-called Wahabbi scholars.” It drew the attention of the government to the freedom granted citizens by the constitution, “We must emphasize that while these debates and arguments between Sunnis and Shiites are as old as the history of Islam, the secular Nigeria has nothing to do with it.
“These scholars know very well that the constitution of Nigeria gives freedom of speech and religion as enshrined in section 38, which categorically states: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” The statement denied that the Islamic Movement poses a national threat, “Why they hate the Shiites has nothing to do with national security.
“Well-meaning Nigerians should not be seen to support demonizing narratives sanctioned at a state level simply because people choose different interpretations of some issues within the religion of Islam. Therefore, as long as a group or organisation conducts itself peacefully without legitimizing violence, the state should stay away from meddling in inter-sectarian polemics.
“The almost 40 years history of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and its Leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is enough a pointer to the fact that we are not a threat to national security as those so called scholars that gathered in Kaduna will want other Nigerians to believe. In fact it is the other way round, because it is on record that in one of his books, the author of the book launched, Prof. Umar Labdo of the Maitama Sule University, Kano, called on Muslims of his like to kill, maim and burn the properties of Christians and Shiites.
“We strongly believe that it’s such ‘scholars’ who identify with the ISIS ideology that spread hate and animosity among citizens that are a threat to National security.” The Islamic Movement vowed to continue demanding for the release of its leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, stressing that, “On a final note, we would like to state categorically that, we will not relent on our effort to enlighten the world about the atrocities committed by the trio of Federal government, Kaduna state government and the Nigerian Army (all under the influence of the Wahibi scholars like Prof. Labdo) against the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria during the month of December, 2015.
“Though, the Kaduna book presentation is ostensibly held to justify the Zaria massacre executed by the Army, we will like to assure those pseudo ulama that Zaria massacre will continue to hunt the memories of its organizers, financiers and executors forever. “We once again wish to reiterate our call on the Federal government to release our Leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, his wife Malama Zeenah and hundreds others still languishing in various detention facilities across the country, most especially Southern part of Nigeria since December, 2015.”